The Jewish heart in an age of antisemitism

Businesses can do good, promote justice and fight hate even as they make a profit.

Medical professionals at work. Credit: Dmitriy Kandinskiy/Shutterstock.
Medical professionals at work. Credit: Dmitriy Kandinskiy/Shutterstock.
Seth Bogner
Seth Bogner

A recent Thomas Friedman New York Times column was a lamentation for Israel’s soul, saying, “The Israel we knew is gone.” Gil Troy expressed the opposite view in The Jerusalem Post. He wrote, “Rather than giving up on Israel because of some politicians, we won’t give up on our lifelong mission to make Israel the best it can be.”

As the CEO and founder of HeartPoint Global, I could not agree more. I am a Jewish Israeli-American who has lived in Israel for over a decade. I am a proud Zionist who has chosen Israel as the primary base for my company. I also live in Brooklyn, New York and I know that antisemitism knows no borders.

The anti-Israel rhetoric pushed by The New York Times and other outlets has planted seeds of antisemitism in the U.S. I do not believe that anti-Israel attitudes and antisemitism are separate things.

While the Times editorial board’s Dec. 17 opinion piece says that the ideal of democracy in a Jewish state is in jeopardy, I disagree. Israel is the one true democracy in the Middle East. It is a pluralistic society with many diverse minority groups, be they LGBT, Arab, Druze or black. A dynamic democracy like Israel is only effective where the rule of law takes precedence and brings together all the parts of a complex society, as is the case in the Jewish state. We should all express support for this.

Most Israelis no longer believe in a two-state solution. This is a fact. As things stand today, there are no responsible parties who could run a potential Palestinian state. Perhaps this will change one day. I hope so. But this stalemate has not stopped Israel from building better relations with its responsible neighbors through the Abraham Accords.

Worldwide, hatred is a cancerous tumor that continues to metastasize. Last month, there were 45 reported antisemitic incidents in New York City alone, far more than against any other group. Recently, a few blocks from my family home in Brooklyn, a group of Jewish boys were chased by attackers firing a taser gun and shouting, “Run Jews! Get out of here!”

Despite the ongoing verbal antisemitism and violent displays of hatred, it is our responsibility as the Jewish people to embody the concept of tikkun olam, the repair of the world. It is our duty, despite the hatred and intolerance around us, to strive for a world that is more just, peaceful, tolerant and unified. We must do good and incorporate the intention to do good in everything we do, including our business endeavors.

For me, that means embracing an evolution of capitalism that enforces our obligation not just to make a profit but to do good for others. At HeartPoint Global, our dual model of servicing the developed and developing world allows investors to do both simultaneously.

Capitalism can be reinvented to be more caring without interfering with the profit motive. A compassionate capitalist stance can lead to systemic change, impacting the lives of those most affected by hatred. A grassroots movement of businesspeople, medical professionals and entrepreneurs using their talents to fight for justice can have a positive ripple effect in a world hemorrhaging with hate and violence.

As an entrepreneur for a medical device company, I always think about how the work of my company’s Israel operations are connected to repairing the social fabric of our society. According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular diseases are the world’s leading cause of death, with more than three-quarters of these deaths occurring in low and middle-income countries. An estimated 17.9 million people died from cardiovascular diseases in 2019, representing 32% of all global deaths. Of these deaths, 85% were due to a heart attack or stroke. Moreover, out of the 17 million premature deaths (under the age of 70) that were due to noncommunicable diseases in 2019, 38% were caused by cardiovascular diseases.

As a medical pioneer, HeartPoint Global is paving the way for citizens worldwide to receive affordable, innovative cardiac care. HeartPoint Global is on a mission to provide innovative, minimally invasive and accessible cardiac care to the 92% of the world’s population without access to cardiac surgery. We want to ensure that those who would otherwise suffer from or die of cardiovascular disease receive the care they need.

Heartpoint Global is developing the first and only minimally invasive adjustable structural heart system (INFLUUNTI) that is affordable and accessible, with the potential to save millions of lives. Once approved for public use, this life-saving device will be distributed in both the developing and developed worlds, with an immediate focus on patients who do not have access to cardiac care.

Just this weekend, Head of Interventional Cardiology Dr. David Planer and Dr. Gabby Elbaz-Greener of Hadassah Medical Center performed the latest pre-clinical intervention in Israel with breakthrough results. Dr. Planer is also the Chief Medical Officer of HeartPoint Global and Dr. Elbaz-Greener is on the medical leadership team.

HeartPoint Global is proud to partner with the EurAsia Heart Foundation (EHF), which has ties throughout the developing world, to perform cardiac surgeries and train local doctors. By working with the EHF, HeartPoint Global’s program has access to an existing network of doctors who will help bring our innovations to the developing world.

Our Train the Doctor program forges long-term medical and commercial cooperation between HeartPoint Global and key markets in the developing world. We believe this will accelerate the adoption and use of INFLUUNTI.

As Elie Wiesel said, “The opposite of love is not hate; it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness; it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy; it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death; it’s indifference.”

Israel can be a beacon of hope to hearts worldwide, and as we work together in the private sector to bring justice to those who most need it, light will prevail over darkness.

Seth Bogner is chairman and CEO of HeartPoint Global.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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